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Rocky Mountain Highways Get Safer

     You'd have to be a hermit not to recognize safety as a major buzzword in today's EMS world, and everybody can do something about it.

     A tiny subcommittee of Colorado's statewide EMS and trauma advisory council had 40 days this fall to implement a day-long statewide safety conference, complete with national faculty and ambulance vendors. It was believed to be the first of its kind nationally.

     Attendance was free (including two meals). Not only that, but the 120 participants walked away with copies of a training program for their agencies, called the EMS Safety Toolkit. Each of 400 EMS and fire agencies in Colorado will receive a copy. And attendees spent most of the afternoon choosing six funding priorities for the state's 2009 EMS grants. (They were approved within the month.)

     The toolkit, which examines the causes of EMS and fire crashes, was offered as the first module of a four-part series on safe emergency vehicle operation. Its CD also contains up-to-date stats and articles on emergency vehicle crashes, a broadcast-quality public service announcement aimed at teaching the public how to react to emergency vehicles, and a dozen or so best safety practices that agencies can adopt or modify to suit their own needs. The toolkit was developed using state EMS grant funds in cooperation with one of the state's 11 Regional Emergency Trauma Advisory Councils (RETACs).

     Module II, slated for completion next October, is planned as the basis for a comprehensive emergency operator training program that individual ambulance services and fire departments can implement on their own.

     The list of priorities was reviewed by Colorado's Statewide EMS and Trauma Advisory Committee (SEMTAC), which not only recommended their adoption for funding, but recommended that all ambulances purchased with state funds next year include a "black box" system as a mandatory requirement. Others include:

  • Pediatric seats/transport systems
  • Attendant restraint systems with dual-panel controls in the patient care area
  • Bracketry to secure all equipment in the patient care area
  • Headphone communication systems between driver and attendants
  • Traffic/intersection control systems
  • Driver surveillance/black box systems.

     In addition, grant funding for these systems will be provided at a ratio of 75%–25% (grant to local funding) instead of the state's usual 50-50 match.

     Next year's conference is scheduled for October 1 and 2 in Denver. According to the state's EMTS Chief, Randy Kuykendall, the intent is to expand the conference to include all segments of the EMS industry, perhaps including air transport, and to target participants in other Western states. Several vendors have already reserved space.

     Randy Lesher, Chief of Thompson Valley EMS in Loveland, chairs the Colorado Transportation Safety Subcommittee. Carl Craigle, Chief Paramedic at Platte Valley Ambulance Service in Brighton, developed the toolkit. Shirley Terry organized the conference; she is coordinator of the Denver-area Mile-High RETAC.

     Readers can contact Terry at with inquiries about next year's event.

     Thom Dick is the quality care coordinator for Platte Valley Ambulance Service, a community-owned, hospital-based 9-1-1 provider in Brighton, CO. Reach him at

     Randy Kuykendall joined the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment in November 2004, after serving as chair of the EMS Education Program at Pueblo Community College for nine years. His professional life began as a firefighter/EMT for the city of Las Cruces in New Mexico and culminates in 33 years of providing prehospital care as an EMT and paramedic.


     The National Association of Emergency Medical Technicians (NAEMT) presented its annual awards at the NAEMT General Membership Meeting and Awards Presentation on October 14 in Las Vegas, NV, during EMS EXPO.

     The following award recipients were recognized for their contributions to the EMS community:

  • Kim Hall, EMT-B, Center Ridge, AR: Robert E. Motley EMT of the Year, sponsored by JEMS Communications;
  • Steven Ray Huffine, NREMT-P, Hardy, AR: Asmund S. Laerdal Award for Excellence/EMT-Paramedic of the Year, sponsored by Laerdal Medical Corporation;
  • Robert L. Ditch, NREMT-P, Yorktown, VA: Mary Ann Talley EMS Instructor/Coordinator of the Year, sponsored by Mosby;
  • Delaware City Fire Company, Delaware City, DE: Leo R. Schwartz Volunteer Emergency Medical Service of the Year, sponsored by EMS Magazine;
  • Lake-Sumter EMS, Mount Dora, FL: Jeffrey Harris Paid Emergency Medical Service of the Year;
  • Kenneth J. Bouvier, NREMT-P, Luling, LA: Rocco V. Morando Lifetime Achievement Award, sponsored by the National Registry of EMTs.

     Each year, NAEMT recognizes excellence in various areas of prehospital medical care with the presentation of individual and organizational achievement awards. These awards honor America's EMS practitioners and organizations that demonstrate exceptional leadership within the profession and outstanding commitment to prehospital care.

     For more information, visit the NAEMT website at For information on EMS EXPO, visit

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